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Microgrids - energy solution for the entire world
Global market for microgrids
More people around the world are using microgrids to power a small location. Microgrids allow individuals or organizations to power their homes, communities, and businesses, and be independent from utility providers. Globally, the microgrid market is forecasted to be over $30 billion by 2027, which is quite a bit higher than previously anticipated, as the global microgrid market grows rapidly. Here is a snippet of an article from Greentech Media about the growth of the global off-grid power market:
Off-grid energy, long the focus of nonprofits and governments, is becoming the next massive investment opportunity for the world’s biggest energy players, with hundreds of millions of dollars going into solar home systems and other energy solutions for the billions of people who lack access to reliable grid power, or any power at all.
Some of the energy systems that microgrids use include: solar PV power, diesel and gas generators, wind power; in addition to batteries, and/or fuel cells, and/or other energy storage systems (see renewable energy storage). Gas generators will continue to be used in microgrids as a low-cost option on a limited basis in select locations for the foreseeable future, as the cost of renewable energy continues to become more affordable, and access to it is increasingly widespread globally. It is common for energy consumers, organizations, or industries, to use hybrid energy systems for microgrids (any combination of the energy sources just described). The efficiency of micro-grids depends on the advancement of battery storage technology. Battery storage plays an important role to a microgrid. The energy generated with a microgrid is sent to a centralized controller; a computerized, often automated system, that optimizes where and when the energy generated by microgrids is dispatched, to be used as electricity by energy customers, or stored for later use.
Buildings such as hospitals, fire stations, military stations, and schools/ colleges/ universities, benefit from microgrids due to their reliability, efficiency, and affordability. In the United States, this was seen during Hurricane Sandy; NYU remained with power due to their microgrids, even while the rest of the New York power grid was down. Another popular version of microgrids gaining investment for developments throughout the developed world, are community solar projects.
Microgrids spread across the developing world
A microgrid is ideal to provide power in hard to reach locations. Telecom towers can also get consistent power with the use of a microgrid. A microgrid is perfect for off-grid third world applications. Microgrids are much more consumer-friendly, efficient, flexible, and affordable, than constructing a power plant for a remote village.
Communities in developing countries (such countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America), especially those in remote locations, benefit from the deployment of microgrids. As African nations push for rural electrification, they look to microgrids as a solution to the problem. Microgrids that use renewable energy are more cost effective and safer compared to fuels like kerosene that are widely used in Africa today. Kerosene often uses up to 20% of an average African's income, can cause fires, and unhealthy air quality. A medium-sized solar power system with battery storage, on other hand, can be easily used by over 50 households, or an entire village, in many rural locations in Africa. Smaller, individual units, can power single, or a few, households. The power can be used for lighting, cell phone charging, cooking, and for many other daily household needs.
Microgrids are important for remote communities throughout the world. Electrification of rural villages has been made possible through microgrids. Power needed for water pumping, and purification, is done with the help of various microgrids throughout the world. Mobile communication has a wider reach in the continents through telecom towers that are powered with microgrids. Microgrids are cheaper than building power lines into forests and mountains, especially in remote locations. Communities in developing countries rely on having microgrids installed, as often utilities don’t want to build long power lines to connect them to the grid.
Many rural communities have already built microgrids as their primary energy source. Every time a new microgrid installation is created, the energy and communications infrastructure of the community is improved, the quality of life of the community is improved, and the skill base of the locals is developed as well. Microgrids represent a better alternative; they are not subject to market price fluctuations, and often use renewable energy. Microgrids are reliable energy sources that keep running when the municipal grid goes down; they represent back-up energy with storage.
Society is ready for microgrids. Both developed and developing countries can benefit from microgrids; especially as renewable energy resources become increasingly widely available, lower cost, and more efficient. Utility providers and municipalities are becoming less reluctant to support microgrids. Some see it as a practical way to provide resiliency of energy, i.e. back-up power, during natural disasters. Others like the fact that decentralized, often renewable, energy, is less expensive, cleaner, and more efficient. Small utilities also welcome the decentralizing of the power grid because it removes the monopoly of a single provider. Private investment globally (including a substantial amount from major global gas companies) outpaces public investment for microgrids. The key to the future success of the global microgrid market lies in maximizing both public and private investment in this low carbon, highly efficient, energy technology.
Here is a description of community solar from fireflower-alternative-energy
"A community solar project is very similar to a microgrid, in that it allows businesses [and residences]...to use clean, renewable, solar energy, which will not only save money on electricity, but [allow them to be] more sustainable. Community solar projects can be developed by a municipality or a private entity. The electricity-produced array can then be distributed in several different ways; either sold to other businesses and/or residents for an agreed-upon price, or businesses and/or residents may purchase a portion of the solar array and will receive credits for the electricity produced by that portion..." - quote from - www.fireflower-alternative-energy.com
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